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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Lobbyists go to U.S. Supreme Court to get gift ban stopped

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August

Hoping to use a new case pending before the U.S. Supreme Court as it's wedge, the Florida Association of Professional Lobbyists today filed a petition asking the court to review the appeal court's decision validating the 2005 state law that bans lobbyists from buying gifts and meals for legislators and requires them to broadly disclose their compensation.

The writ of certiorari was filed by Miami attorney Thomas Julin on behalf of lobbyists Ron Book, Guy Spearman and the lobbyist association. He argues, among other things, that when the court rules in the case Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission, it could overturn the precedent that was relied on to uphold Florida's law.

U.S. District Judge Stephen Mickle ruled that the disclosure requirements in Florida's law did not violate the First Amendment. The lobbyists argue that the disclosure requirements go too far because they can be imposed on "grassroots" lobbying and that the ban on all gifts to legislators and state officials is an unconstitutional suppression of free speech and violates their right to equal protection. Download FAPL suit to USSC

Despite the ban, lobbyists operating in Tallahassee reported earning $45 million from January through March to influence the Legislature, essentially the same amount that all 2,000 state lobbyists made in the same period in 2008, when Florida wasn't in a financial emergency.

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[Last modified: Thursday, September 9, 2010 4:55pm]

    

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